- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 9, 2006

Ian Dingman admittedly didn’t have one of his best days on the lacrosse field. That didn’t stop him from turning in one of his more memorable performances.

Dingman scored with eight seconds remaining to lift No.8 Navy past No.4 Maryland 7-6 last night before 3,512 at Byrd Stadium, sending the Midshipmen to their third straight victory over their in-state opponent.

Jon Birsner added a goal and three assists — including a feed of Dingman’s game-winner — and goalie Matt Russell made nine saves for Navy (8-2), which gained a much-needed quality victory by defeating Maryland on a goal in the final 15 seconds for the second straight season.

“It’s a gigantic boost for us,” Navy coach Richie Meade said. “I’ve kind of felt like we have gotten no breaks this year. Things have not gone our way at times, and some of that is because we have not played well in critical situations. Tonight I thought we played hard and tough.”

It was a demoralizing defeat for the Terrapins (6-3), who lost their second straight game and played much of the night without starting goalie Harry Alford. The junior was yanked less than seven minutes into the game in favor of sophomore Jason Carter and never returned.

Alford, who departed in the third quarter a week earlier against Virginia after surrendering 12 goals, entered with a 6.36 goals-against average. Yet after he swept a ball out of bounds, Maryland coach Dave Cottle summoned Carter.

“I just felt like it was the time to make the change,” Cottle said. “I’ve been impressed with Jason’s competitiveness, and I thought he did a very good job.”

Carter was solid for much of the night, making seven saves to keep Maryland in it during a frustrating first half. However, it was the final shot he faced that he probably wanted back more than any other.

Dingman, who had struggled with Maryland’s pressure and committed five turnovers, had anticipated a screen set on the inside for him to roll off. It didn’t materialize like he hoped, but Birsner still got the ball to Dingman, who slipped a low shot past Carter to complete his hat trick.

The tight victory — hardly a surprise considering the teams’ last eight meetings have been decided by a combined 11 goals — set off a celebration among Navy’s players, who stormed onto the field after Brendan Healy’s last-second shot fell short. The Mids, who had not beaten a team currently ranked in the top 20, meet Army and Johns Hopkins in the next two weeks.

“It’s a crucial time in April,” Birsner said. “There’s two regular-season games left, and nothing’s guaranteed in the end. Right now is where we start building off of this.”

The loss leaves the Terps in a similar position as a year ago, when they dropped two games in a row going into their meeting with Johns Hopkins. Maryland heads to Homewood Field on Saturday looking to recapture the smart play and offensive cohesiveness that vaulted it to No.1 in the nation early last month.

“It seems like deja vu,” Walters said. “We’re in the same spot. We have to come up and make a stand and get this game against Hopkins, so we don’t get in a three-game hole going into the ACC tournament again.”

The Mids built a 5-1 lead at halftime, scoring three times on extra-man. However, the Terps scored twice in the first minute and remained within two at the end of the third quarter.

The Terps continued their run in the fourth when long pole Ryan Clarke picked off a pass from Dingman and sent an outlet to Max Ritz, who beat Russell with 12:22 left. Nine minutes later, Walters zipped in a 12-yarder for his second goal of the night. He followed both of them by pretending to draw a sword to salute the Navy fans, thereby ensuring their enmity.

Maryland won the following faceoff, but Navy’s Geoff Leone snagged a groundball with 1:16 left to give the Mids possession and set up Dingman’s winner.

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